The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Services › Citizenship › Citizenship by Descent: Frequently Asked Questions

What is New Zealand Citizenship by Descent?
Who can apply?
Any person born outside New Zealand on or after 1 January 1978 and whose mother or father was a New Zealand citizen other than by descent (ie. by birth in NZ, or by grant) at the time of that person’s birth, is a New Zealand citizen by descent.

As of 10 December 2001 there is no requirement to register your New Zealand citizenship, but if you require a New Zealand passport you must prove your New Zealand citizenship by way of a Certificate of Registration of New Zealand Citizenship.

It is recommended that you apply for Citizenship by Descent Registration as this will create a permanent record of your New Zealand citizenship and you will be provided with a Citizenship by Descent Registration certificate.

When should the fee be paid?
The fee must be paid at the time the application(s) is lodged. Processing will not begin on any applications until the full fee has been paid. If there is a problem with the payment the Department will contact you.

Why do I have to provide evidence of my name used in the community?
We require this to make sure that the person being registered for citizenship by descent, or the parent they are claiming citizenship through, uses the same name in the community that is on their official identification documentation.
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Privacy Act section
Who signs it?
The Privacy Act section must be signed by the person completing the application form, plus the claim parent (if they are not the person completing the form).

If the applicant’s father is the claim parent then the applicant’s mother must also sign the Privacy Act section.

What if I am 16 years of age or over and do not have a passport or other state-issued identification?
A citizenship officer will contact you if they require any further information from you. If you have any other photo identification such as an 18+ card or drivers licence, you should send this.

I am not in contact with one or both of my parents. What should I do?
If you are not in contact with your claim parent, you must provide original documents that show proof of their New Zealand citizenship. This is to enable a claim to citizenship by descent to be determined, these include:
  • Claim parent's New Zealand birth certificate; or
  • New Zealand Citizenship Certificate.
Please contact us if you require further assistance.

Claim parent deceased
If the claim parent is deceased an original death certificate needs to be provided.
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Who can be a witness?
To act as the witness a person must either:
  • hold a current New Zealand passport (7.1) and state the passport number;

  • belong to one of the listed professions (7.2) and state the name and address of the business or organisation.

  • have physically met the applicant; and
  • have known them for at least 12 months. (if the applicant is less than 12 months old the witness must have known the applicant since the time of birth).
What if I don’t know a New Zealand passport holder who can witness the proof of identity section in my application form?
If you don’t know a New Zealand passport holder who meets the requirements of a witness, then you can find someone who fits into one of the following groups to witness the proof of identity section of the application form for you:

LawyerTeacherMinister of Religion
Police OfficerEmployer of person being registeredRegistered Medical Professional
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What does physically meeting mean?
The witness and applicant must have physically met in person. This does not include letters, Facebook, website, phone, Skype, emails or photos.

Witness in a different country to applicant
The witness must have physically met the applicant. If the applicant and witness live in different countries the Department might ask for proof that they have met.

The back of the photo
The witness must write the applicants full name on the back of the two photographs of the applicant. Only the witness should write anything on the back of the photographs.

Proof of Identity page
  • Section 8
    The witness must write their own personal details including their full name, date of birth and residential contact details.
  • Section 9
    The witness must state they know the applicant. The witness must write the applicant’s name in section 9, not their own. They need to write how long they have known the applicant.
Proof of Identity page and photos together
The dates on the Proof of Identity section and photographs must be the same.

Why do I have to provide more information than my brother or sister did when they registered for citizenship by descent recently?
More information is now required because of the Evidence of Identity Standard. The Evidence of Identity Standard sets out the types of evidence that, when combined, provide us with confidence that an individual is who they claim to be.

More information about the Evidence of Identity Standard can be found on the Department of Internal Affairs website.

Can I choose which office I send my application form to?
Yes. You can choose whether to send your application to our Wellington, Sydney or London office. Most people send their application to the office closest to where they live.

Where can I get further information about my application?
Further information is available by contacting us. A language line service providing interpreting services in foreign languages is available on request.

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